If you analyze the news for the most serious problems affecting the planet, they would include disease, hunger, drought, natural disasters and terrorism. Israel’s superb work to combat these menaces deserves far more publicity. Here are some recent examples.
The risk of contracting cancer is now estimated at 1 in 2, which puts the deadly disease firmly into the crisis category. Weizmann scientists have just developed a triple-effect treatment to kill lung cancer cells and prevent them from returning. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has designed a tiny antenna that can be inserted into the stomach to detect and treat early-stage gastric tumors too small to be treated by current methods. Meanwhile, Israel’s VBL Therapeutics reported interim results from its Phase 2 trials of its VB-111 advanced ovarian cancer treatment that reduced tumor size by at least 50% and also extended the survival of patients with aggressive brain cancer (glioblastoma). And finally, let’s hear it for Israel Prize laureate Dr. Haim (Howard) Cedar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose work to detect wrongly reproduced instructions in the DNA may one day not merely cure, but actually prevent cancer from forming.
The media warns us that the next medical crisis will occur when bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics and that there is insufficient research into alternatives. But almost every week Israeli biotechs announce advances in this area. Such as the P-1000 optical device from Pocared Diagnostics that performs bacteria tests in minutes and even identifies which antibiotics the bacteria is resistant to. Or the pulsed light research at Tel Aviv University that kills the listeria bacteria in infected milk products. In fact using pulsed light once a day may mean that milk no longer requires refrigeration. Finally, Redhill Biopharma, which has just completed a Phase III successful trial of RHB-105 for H. pylori infections, the major cause of stomach cancer.
According to the World Bank, there is a crisis in food security, with one-third of global child deaths due to malnutrition. Thankfully, Israel’s agricultural expertise is combatting this crisis. The new government of India has deployed Israeli technology to feed its growing population in almost every state, the latest being Goa. Visit the Israeli Pavilion at the Milano Expo to see Israel’s Hinoman, which is cultivating Mankhai, a sustainable vegetable containing more protein than meat or fish. It is also high in vitamins, low in carbohydrate, fat, sugar and salt and is GMO, gluten and pesticide free.
There is an even bigger global crisis with drought. So Israel has just signed an agreement to share its best practices on water with the World Bank. The water crisis affects even developed countries and Israeli water technology experts are busy working in the Californian cities of Sacramento, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.
Ironically, too much water is one cause of the many crises from recent natural disasters. Massive floods in Texas killed dozens and impacted thousands. So the Israeli organization IsraAID sent a team of volunteers to help remove debris from damaged houses. And in Tbilisi, the east European capital of Georgia, a team of Israeli veterinarians helped rescue wild animals that escaped during severe floods. Meanwhile, IsraAID also launched its "A Roof for All" program to provide safe and sturdy transitional shelter for thousands of displaced families who lost their homes as a result of the last two devastating earthquakes in Nepal.
Israel is a key player in solving the world’s energy crisis. Despite its recent discovery of huge deposits of natural gas, Israel is firmly at the forefront of renewable energy developments. Israel’s latest billion-dollar company, SolarEdge has just released a new solar energy storage system and expanded its commercial products. And with Israel’s Ecoppia cleaning system, 5 million solar panels are now keeping free of the dust and sand that reduces efficiency by up to 40 percent. Meanwhile, those companies still having to clean-up after oil-spill crises will be encouraged that Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have developed a reagent that converts the oil into carbon dioxide and water. And a new fast-deployed oil-spill containment boom from Israeli startup HARBO will provide a major improvement on disaster response times.
Israel’s work to combat the world terrorism crisis would take up too much room than I have available here. Suffice it to say, however, that eleven Israeli companies exhibited products at the recent Paris Air Show. One new Israeli device will prevent an on-board crisis should a pilot lose consciousness. The Cannary flight helmet smart system from Tel Aviv’s Lifebeam has sensors that measure the pilot’s vital signs and will take control of the plane in order to prevent disasters.
Finally, some 150 of the Jewish world’s leading change-makers from 32 countries gathered in Jerusalem for the 2015 ROI Summit. They will no doubt learn to combat many crises as they seek to build a thriving Jewish future and a better world.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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